Baking bread

The pizza dough’s done it.

It gave me confidence in sunshine, confidence alone, and me.

Mostly it gave me the confidence to try making more dough.

Bread dough.

Believe it!

Betty Crocker’s got the recipe!

Here’s what happened:

I walked to the grocery store.

It was a beautiful fall morning!

I bought 2 loaf pans. And a 12 pack of mason jars, but that’s a different story.

I almost bought 2 persimmons until I saw they cost $4 each. Then I decided against it and left the grocer’s with my pans and jars.

Back home, back to bread.

Naturally pure and wholesome. Just the way I like it.

Here’s what you need (besides wholesomeness, that is):

  • 6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, butter (cut into little chunks), and yeast  in a bowl.

Add the warm water – I just used water from the tap, not too hot, but pretty darn warm.

Mix for one minute.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, and continue mixing for about another minute.

At this stage of the game, your dough will likely look a fright, not totally combined, with chunks of flour listlessly hanging out in the bottom of the bowl.

Don’t worry. “Don’t worry” should definitely be a step in every bread recipe.

Dump your frightful dough and uncombined chunks onto a floured surface.

Start kneading. As you knead, combine the dough chunks into the bigger dough ball. Just work on it. Squish the dough, fold it over, squish it again.

Knead for about 10 minutes. Yes, 10. Don’t be wimpy. The dough will come together and feel solid and springy. Your arm muscles will feel solid and not springy.

Dough, mid knead.

Take your pleasingly combined dough, and put it in a greased bowl. You can use Pam or butter or whatever you want. I used butter. Flip your dough around so all sides get covered with grease of choice. Cover with Saran wrap.

Let your dough rise for about an hour.

Whoa! Now you have jumbo dough!

Here comes the best part!

Punch it baby!

Once you sock your dough and deflate it, turn it out onto your floured surface and separate it into 2 halves. Because I have 2 different size loaf pans, I made one half a little bigger than the other.

Roll out your dough into a rough rectangle. You can use your hands, a rolling pin, or in my case, a trusty pint glass. I always have one of those nearby!

You’re going to roll this up starting on the short side. Once you have a rolled up dough tube (ew), pinch the edge to seal the seam and fold the sides under a little. You can see photos of how to do that here – my hands were too dough-y to take pictures, sorry. Put this into a greased loaf pan, seam side down.

Once again, cover with Saran wrap and leave your loaves alone! They need to grow and recover from that punch you dealt them.

Let your loaflets rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and move your racks to the lower part of the oven – not the absolute bottom, necessarily, but low-ish.

What a big fat loaf! Time to bake it.

You can brush the tops with butter if you want. I wanted.

Into the oven!

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I baked mine for 27 minutes. You can tell they’re done when they are brownish and sound hollow when you tap on the tops. Tappity tap tap, done!

Your house will smell amazing.

Out they come!

Ooooh!

Let them cool a little bit. And then slice away. Make sure you have butter handy.

Take pictures of your successful bread and brag about it on Facebook. That’s what I did.

Very satisfying.

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Potato Pizza

I made pizza dough for the first time yesterday.

I was nervous. But I needn’t have been. It wasn’t too hard. I used recipes from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen.

Here’s what you do:

Get a bowl

Mix 3 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons salt

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast

Then 1 cup of warm water

And stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Stir that all together. It’s gloppy.

Plop the glop on a floured board. This is the fun part. Mush it around until it becomes a ball. Knead it a little more, just because it’s satisfying.

Ok, stop!

Oil a bowl, with Pam or olive oil or whatever. Drop your ball of dough inside.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Leave alone.

I let mine rise for about 3 hours because that’s what worked for my timing and my life. The recipes say 1 to 2 hours is enough.

I love rising dough, don’t you? It’s so science project.

When the dough has risen, squish it. Take it out of its bowl, and press out the air bubbles. Then put it back in its bowl, cover it back up, and let it rise for a 2nd time, for about 20 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prepare your toppings!

You can put just about anything on a pizza.

I put potatoes on this pizza. Of course.

Potatoes, and spreadable truffle flavored cheese.

And onions.

I sliced my taters super thin, per Smitten Kitchen recipe. I don’t have a mandolin, and I only had fingerling potatoes, but I just sliced carefully with my big knife and all seemed to work out fine.

Then I soaked the potatoes in cold water to get some of the starch off.

G chopped the onions.

Choppity chop. Action shot.

Once everything was sliced and chopped, I tossed the onions and potatoes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and added some salt and pepper.

I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, and spread my dough out on a baking sheet. It was a little tricky to get it as thin as I wanted, but we managed to shape it into a rough rectangle using our hands and a pint glass as a rolling pin.

Then I spread the truffle flavored fromage blanc from Mt. Townsend Creamery onto the dough, and laid our thinly sliced potatoes atop that.

Into the oven for 23 minutes!

Looks good! Well, it looks kind of yellow, but that’s because I took this photo at night and the flash ruins everything.

Tastes good.

The dough was great, a little thicker than I’ll try for next time, but was fairly crunchy and tasted great. The cheese is of course delicious, and the potatoes crisp up around the edges in a fabulous way.

And now that I know how to make pizza dough, you can bet we’ll be trying out tons of topping combinations in the near future.

That’s an exciting thought!

Snoqualmie Falls

Well!

It turned out to be a lovely weekend!

As reported previously, the weather was fine, the air crisp, the sky blue.

Time for an adventure outside the city!

After making the rounds at the Broadway Farmers Market this morning and coming home laden with squash, apples, broccoli, potatoes, and more, I stopped at Top Pot to get a pumpkin doughnut!

What?

That’s not enough adventure for you?

Well it wasn’t for me either. They didn’t have any pumpkin doughnuts left. You have to get there at the crack of dawn on a weekend if you want one. I settled for a maple old-fashioned and an apple fritter. Still felt seasonal. Though they cannot be compared to the pumpkin doughnut. Those things are glorious.

Ok. Brought the doughnuts home. Fed them to G and his brother.

Then we filled up our water bottles, stopped for a snack break (!), and hopped in the car! Hippity hop!

First we went to Redmond and looked at Microsoft. Hey, Microsoft, what’s up? The office that G’s brother works in is nice. Green paint. Ping pong tables. Diet Coke. Giant spiral staircase.

And those are just the highlights!

Then we drove to the Snoqualmie Valley.

And went to Snoqualmie Falls.

Whoa.

It is pretty!

And huge!

What’s that construction equipment doing up there?

It kind of looks like I’m punching G in the side, doesn’t it?

I probably was. I punch a lot.

Nice! Waterfally!

Then we went to a park with a view. Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the park.

That’s Mount Si. Sigh.

Mountain and moon.

After our outdoor adventures we went to a wine tasting.

Can’t complain.

 

 

Autumn

Remember how I posted two days ago about Fall?

Well, I’m essentially writing the same thing today but I’m calling it Autumn.

And I’m going to tell you again how much I love, love, love, love, love it.

Pumpkins. Pumpkins piled high at the farmers market this morning. Pumpkins and …

Whatever all this squashy stuff is. And more pumpkins.

And:

Total beauty.

$5 beauty, I might add. What a lucky afternoon. The sun is shining, the leaves are falling, and I have a beautiful bunch of inexpensive flowers. Lucky duck.

Brussels

Who doesn’t love them?

Oh. You say lots of people think they’re gross? Think they stink?

Well! I never! Brussels sprouts are wonderful! Delicious! Nutritious! Grow in a bizzarro way! Once I bought a brussel sprout stalk and plunked it in a fancy fake crystal vase and called it a floral arrangement. Then I forgot to change the water in the vase. Then brussels sprouts gave off an odor. But that was my fault.

Image from here.

Okay! Are you ready to hear about cooking this delicious vegetable? Yes, you are. I swear it’s good.

First, wash the little darlings. Peel off any crummy looking outer leaves.

Then, chop them in half.

Little mini cabbages! What!? You said you don’t like cabbage either? I don’t think we can be friends.

Do you like gummi bears?

Ok, thank goodness. Friends again.

Back to Brussels: Once your sprouts are chopped, toss them in olive oil. Lots of it. Then salt and pepper the heck out of them.

Turn on your oven’s broiler. Or your toaster oven, if you roll that way. I own a toaster, and an oven, and therefore see NO NEED for some enormous appliance called a TOASTER OVEN. But to each his own.

Put your salt and peppered sprouts on a baking sheet. I put mine cut side up.

Put them under the broiler for 10 minutes.

Try to take a picture through your oven door. Think about how happy you are to have an oven with a light that works and no weird gunk stuck to the bottom of it.

When your 10 minute timer beeps, wait another minute.

Then take out your sprouts!

Now you have slightly crunchy, salt and peppery, earthy and delicious brussels sprouts!

Eat them! You’ll love them! G asked for seconds! But there weren’t any because I had eaten them all.

Fall

I really like fall. Always have. I like how it smells. I like how it looks. It looks good, doesn’t it? Definitely the most attractive season.

I’m pleased to report that fall in Seattle seems quite nice, lots of crispness, blue skies, and apples. And also grey days when the yellowing leaves look especially nice.

I’m going to try to take some more “fall” pictures tomorrow. We’re going on a family shopping trip outside the city. I’m really excited about it. Reminds of being a kid and driving to Traverse City to buy proper clothing and groceries. Of course, because we live in a large city, we don’t really have to leave it to shop, but we’re going to anyway. I’ll report more later. But anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to take some photos of the surrounding autumnal countryside. It’s pretty here.

This is another good thing about here: cedar trees. Smells like my parents’ house.